TGA dealer Easy Living Mobility has continued to buck the trend and prove there is scope to be successful, thrive and expand on the modern day high street. In opening a new store in Hanley this month, Easy Living expanded its operation to a total of 12 stores.
In doing so, the company is keen to showcase just why it thinks it is seeing success on the high street when the general feeling across the country, both inside and outside of the mobility retail industry and across all other markets, is that the high street in 2019 is a difficult place to be and in some cases how survival can be counted as a success.
Founder and owner of the business, Daniel Griffiths, believes the working plan in place is showing signs of success and is flexible enough to allow it room to manoeuvre despite tough trading conditions.
Discussing the range of stores across the country, he details how although sticking to the same business principles and mission, they do all have to uniquely adapt to their specific region or customer needs.
He says: “We may all operate within the same group and share the same business principles; however, each Easy Living store has a different strategy. Over the past fifteen or more years, all of my store teams have embedded themselves in the community with outreach that gives us a true understanding of what people need in each region.”
It is this integration into local communities that Griffiths sees as vital to building relationships and learning from those who use the service in order to better the individual store’s offering.
Griffiths continues: “Culture, activities, terrain and lifestyles, these all can vary even across a single region such as the Midlands and over time. This is why we continually tailor our services and product range accordingly so that independence is maximised for all with restricted mobility. By continually listening to ever-changing local needs, we have been able to stay ahead of the curve and beat the downward high street trend.”
Giving each store this level of autonomy, the proof would always be in the pudding, and with its 12th store opening, it seems the system is most definitely working.
After its inception in 2001, the business now employs 32 staff and has a high street presence in Cannock, Dudley, Kidderminster, Leek, Lichfield, Newcastle, Northfield, Telford, Walsall, Wolverhampton and now Hanley, near Stoke-on-Trent. Easy Living supplies a range of assisted products for independent living such as mobility scooters, wheelchairs and stairlifts.
Another aspect of its ethos is to ensure that products such as these provide appropriate support, comfort and safety, while Easy Living as an organisation always recommends a face-to-face assessment.
Griffiths believes this adds to the opportunity to discuss individual needs in more detail and subsequently allow for the individual store to deliver the right advice and right product every time.
He adds: “To be successful you must consider your customer base through-and-through and this is what we do. Get it exactly right and you know what customers will ask for before they come through the door. Equally, after the purchase, after-sales support is crucial to protect your reputation, repeat business and word of mouth recommendation. We fully appreciate our duty of care to vulnerable locals and making a difference to their lives is what motivates us every day.”
Griffiths insists Easy Living’s continued growth is testament to its focus on combining quality products, such as TGA mobility scooters, with exceptional customer-centric service.
He says: “My business is all about dialling in to what customers require. This is why we organise coffee mornings or visit care homes to talk to people struggling to remain mobile. Easy Living is not just about selling, it is far more than that, we believe in giving back to the community with impartial advice for easier living. Our new team at Hanley is already planning how to help the community by signposting towards solutions for greater social inclusion. Exciting times for locals and us.”
Griffiths goes on: “For example, the type of mobility scooter that’s popular will vary between areas so our provision of TGA product varies. We find more rural locations in the west drive a demand for scooters with strong off-road capabilities such as the Breeze S4. Whereas more built-up areas can dictate a need for smaller scooters particularly the folding Minimo. Dudley ,for example is hilly so customers seek a combination of both product types along with TGA powerpacks for wheelchairs. Wherever our store is located the reliability and long-term value of scooters does not vary – this is why TGA is our flagship brand.”
It has been a busy year for the Easy Living Mobility business. It started in the spring it launched its franchise campaign and started recruiting would-be partners.
Balancing the company-owned stores with managing a franchise network was always going to be a tricky prospect, but eight months on, the decision and timing of that decision seems to have more than paid off.
Speaking at the time, Griffiths said: “We’ve got the platform to offer that development in the industry, however that needs to look, however the landscape changes in this sector. I just want people to follow in our footsteps. That person might be the right person inside but they don’t know it yet.
“I’ve always had the thought in my mind about going down the franchise route. I worked with some very large outfits who did franchises themselves in the mid-nineties. The model didn’t work for them for one reason or another. In my mind it was all about timing.
“In my opinion, they had everything right, it was just the wrong time. The marketplace just wasn’t ready for them two decades ago. I think the market has now evolved and is definitely ready for the right type of model and ultimately the model we’ve got to offer.”
Considering the success of Easy Living Mobility’s current own-store model, some observers might have questioned the need to launch a franchise network.
However, the way the company and its offering has continued to evolve and expand in the months since, that decision and its successful consequences would have gone a long way in silencing any critics.
Now, the focus will be on getting the new Hanley store up to scratch and performing at the same level of the other stores across the country.
Although it is sure to be a challenging task, the Easy Living Mobility track record will most certainly provide a solid guideline to success.
The new Hanley store provides a spacious and welcoming 2,000sqft showroom which displays a comprehensive range of mobility products.
Motability approved and a valued dealer within the TGA network too, Easy Living Mobility has once again reiterated and proven that high street success is possible with a highly adaptable and considered strategy, even in the 2019 environment.